How to Tell the Difference Between Knitting and Crochet
Have you ever seen a garment or accessory (or even pattern picture) that you really love and wondered whether it’s knitted or crocheted? Unless you’re well-versed in one or both of these crafts, you’ll probably find it difficult to tell. That’s why we’ve put together this post – here are the tips and tricks that you can use to tell how a garment, accessory or even home item was made.
One way to tell if an item is knitted or crocheted, is to know how the basic stitches of each of these crafts look.
Knitted stitches – in their most basic form – are knitted as garter or stockinette. Stockinette is very easy to tell apart because of it’s flat, v-shaped stitches. Garter stitch on the other hand, forms ribbed lines of interlocking stitches.
If you think that something is knitted, it’s easiest to look for the telltale v-shaped stitches that show where stockinette was used.
Crochet stitches are – for the most part – much taller than knitted stitches and have a lot more texture to them than does basic knitting like garter or stockinette.
For example, double crochet (US) or treble (UK) stitches are not only a lot taller than knitted stitches, but you can also see the way in which the yarn is wrapped around itself if you look at the individual stitches. Rather than forming ribs or v-shapes, these are upright stitches.
Crochet also can’t be made by machine and has to be made by hand, whereas knitted fabrics can be made by knitting machines or on looms. This is why you’ll never find rolls of crocheted fabric in your local fabric store, but will find lots of knitted fabrics.
Knitting Techniques that are easy to identify
There are also techniques that are used almost exclusively for knitting. These include fair isle, cabling, and ribbing.
Fair isle knitting is not only easily identified by the colorful patterns and invisible color changes, but also by the flat fabric of v-shaped stitches. Fair isle – with its color changes within the same row – is impossible to create in crochet with the same fineness. The mosaic crochet technique is probably the closest one to fair isle. The fabric made in this way barely has any drape though, unlike the knitted fair isle.
Cabling is possible in crochet, up to a point, but is a lot more textured than knitted cabling. Knitted cables are smooth (look out again for the v-shaped stitches), whereas the crocheted cables are not as smooth and the double crochet/treble stitches that make up the cables can usually be identified very easily.
Ribbing in knitting is made by alternating knit and purl stitches, giving the well-known ribbed look of the cuffs of sweaters and on socks. However, crocheted ribbing are made by alternating making stitches in the front loop and back loop of the previous rows. Again, the crocheted ribbing is much more textured than its knitting counterpart (v-shapes alternating with garter ribbing).
Where it gets tricky – lace knitting and lacy crochet designs
If you’ve ever searched “knitting” on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen the beautiful, lacy knitted scarves and shawls that people have made. These ethereal-seeming accessories make use of deliberately made “holes” in the knitted fabric (made by yarn overs, for example) to create flowers, geometric patterns, and much more.
It can be difficult to tell whether the shawl, for example, has been knitted or crocheted from a distance. This is why it’s important to admire the piece from closer to tell how it was made.
One way to tell whether a shawl has been knit or whether it’s a very lacy crocheted piece is too again look for the v-shaped stitches on the right side of the shawl. These will be visible in elements like leaves and flowers or other shapes. You’ll also see chain stitches and double crochet/treble stitches clearly if the shawl or scarf have been crocheted.
It’s good to remember that knitting and crochet can also be mixed – for example a knitted shawl with a crocheted border. If you see the v-shapes of stockinette stitch as well as trebles, you’re eyes aren’t deceiving you!
Doilies, while usually crocheted, can be knitted in the same way as the lace knitted shawls. Make sure to look for chain stitches and double crochet/trebles to see whether or not the cloth has been crocheted.
Knitted and crocheted toys
Toys can be both knitted and crocheted. For crocheted toys single crochet is usually used throughout (for example in amigurumi), while knitted toys are made with stockinette stitch (yes, the v-stitches-look again!). Knitted toys are also very seldom referred to as “amigurumi”.